How many times have you heard that email is dying and will eventually be replaced by new collaborative tools like Social Software? While Facebook and SMS may have largely outsourced email with the younger generations, it's certainly not going anywhere anytime soon from an enterprise perspective. That being said, there are still clear benefits that Social Software can bring over Email in an enterprise setting. I recently experienced that first hand so I wanted to share with everyone - but doing so within the context of Quad, because I know there are a lot of Quad users on this site and people have a lot of questions about it.
A few Mondays ago, I found out that there was going to be technical discussion with a prospective Quad customer 24 hours later, on Tuesday.
There was an explicit set of 9 technical questions that we needed to address on the call.
Due to the short notice, I didn’t have time to research the questions myself nor schedule a call to pull the necessary Cisco Advanced Services Engineers & Architects together.
I decided the best approach was to use our ESS tool, Cisco Quad. The nice thing about Quad is the salient "New Post" button on top of every page. Quad employs a unique feature known as the "Unified Post Model" which simplifies the various methods of asynchronous collaboration (might be an interesting topic for another day). Clicking the "New Post" button is always the first place I need to go - I don't have to worry about whether it should be a wiki, a blog, a post, etc or whether it should be in community A, community B, etc. But the main point is that it takes me ONE CLICK to do what I need to do.
I then created a post with the 9 questions, providing my initial responses, calling out areas where input was needed.
When a post is completed in Quad, you have the option of sharing with your communities, your self-defined groups, individual contacts, or a mix of all three. I shared it with three of my self-defined groups - all the AS Functional Architects, AS Solution Architects, and AS Engineers which was a breeze because I keep my contacts organized very cleanly by groups. This is where ESS tears down the old hierachies of enterprises! I'm empowered to define my own groups.
From a sharing perspective, I also made sure that everyone had the ability to share it with others I may have missed, but more importantly, the ability to edit so that they could make in-line additions and corrections. It's imperative to have a level of access control granularity because you don't always want everyone to view, share, comment, edit, etc.
I made the post editable so anyone could add in answers. Some of you may be wondering what that means for the integrity of the post. Well as long as you have revision history like Quad, I didn't have to worry about someone deleting something I or somebody else wrote because it's easy to restore to an earlier version.
To ensure people were aware of this post, I told Quad to send out an email alert to the shared groups. This is an interesting step - because most people still use email as their primary communication device, I wanted to send an email alert to make sure they saw it. So email can still very much play a role.
By the end of Monday, this crowdsourcing approach resulted in all 9 questions being answered (the snippet below shows how we had multiple people weigh in on each question)
7 people weighed in on the post, resulting in 11 edits during the course of the day
I didn’t have to worry about consolidating emails from 7 different people – it was all self organizing
All questions were answered without me needing to schedule a single meeting, talk to a single person, send a direct email or IM to anyone – asynchronous collaboration at its finest!
On the customer call, we had everyone on the Cisco side working off the post – the single version of the truth
Once we create a project community for that customer, I’ll be able to share with that community with a couple simple clicks, further showing power of the unified post model
I know this is just a small example and straightforward use case of ESS / Quad, but the more quick wins like this we see, the more people will realize that ESS is much more than one of the latest IT buzz words - it's a very powerful approach collaboration!
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